Looking for a coconut milk substitute? This article is for people who don’t like the taste of coconut milk but want to cook dishes that call for it, as well as for people who don’t have it on hand.
This type of milk has a distinct flavor, so the items below may not be able to exactly copy the exact coconut taste. However, these things will deliver in terms of consistency and creaminess, so you will still be able to come up with equally delicious dishes!
I learned about these substitutes when I was already in the middle of cooking and realized I didn’t have enough coconut milk. This led me to do a quick research and I was introduced to a lot of more available possibilities.
Here are some of the items that can act as a coconut milk substitute. I’ll be providing different types of alternatives–creamy, heavy light, lactose-free, and so on. See which one you like best and try it out in your recipes!
1. Try The Lactose-Free Soy Milk
Soy milk is one of the popular coconut milk alternatives out there. Not only is it delicious, it also has a lot of health benefits—it’s rich in protein and packed with nutrients like vitamins D and B12. Like coconut milk, this one is also lactose-free!
This is good for cooking as both have similar silky textures, but it’s best if you’re looking for a coconut milk alternative for drinking. A friend of mine tried using coconut milk in coffee for a few weeks until she realized that it’s not exactly that healthy, so she shifted to soy.
Coconut milk actually contains a lot of saturated fat <about 5 grams per cup!>, so if you can’t have dairy (or simply want to cut down on it), it’s best to stick with soy milk–it’s a way healthier alternative, doesn’t have saturated fat and contains loads of health benefits.
2. Substitute With Equal Amounts of Heavy Cream
Note: There are two main types of coconut milk: the boxed variety, which is usually found refrigerated with other types of milk; and the canned variety, which you’ll usually find on the condiment aisle in supermarkets.
Coconut milk is rich, so heavy cream is another great substitute. This one is mostly for cooking, as the canned coconut milk is heavier than the ones in the box <which are already diluted with water to make them easier to drink>.
When working with heavy cream as a substitute for coconut milk, simply use an equal amount. If you think that the cream is too thick, you can add a bit of water or some whole milk once your sauce starts to simmer.
3. Go Healthy With Some Plain or Greek Yogurt
If you want something thick but more healthy than heavy cream, try yogurt. This is another excellent coconut milk substitute that you can use in your dishes. If you’re making curry but don’t have coconut milk, use this one—their flavors go so well together!
Note: If you’re curious about how long yogurt can sit out, check out this post! You might be able to learn something new.
Yogurt can actually make your dish richer, and it has fewer calories than heavy cream. You can use plain yogurt, but I discovered that Greek Yogurt works way better! The Greek variety is simply yogurt that has been strained to remove whey content, making it thicker.
I’ve tried this with an Indian curry dish, and the results were wonderful! You can also use this in baked goods and spice-heavy dishes like tandoori.
4. Work With Some Whole/Fresh Milk
This is one of the easiest things to find on this list! You won’t be able to achieve the same distinct flavors of coconut milk when you use this, but it will deliver in terms of creaminess.
Not all coconut milk is created equal. There are some brands that have a very distinct flavor of coconut, while others are milder. I personally prefer the latter, because as much as I love its taste, I don’t like it overpowering my dish. This is why fresh milk always comes in handy!
Coconut milk is a common dairy substitute. I once made a custard passion fruit dessert that originally made use of coconut milk, and the results were great!
I simply substituted coconut milk with the same amount of whole milk and it was delicious, like a creamy, tangy panna cotta. My kids couldn’t get enough of it!
Note: when simmering fresh milk, make sure that you constantly stir it to prevent it from burning.
5. Want Something Healthier? Try Almond Milk
Almond milk is another healthy alternative to coconut milk. This (and other types of nut milk) don’t taste exactly like coconut milk, but both of them do have similar nutty flavors that bring out the best in dishes.
You can use this as substitutes for both canned and boxed coconut milk. It’s great for drinking and cooking curries <it’s common in vegetarian curry recipes>. If you want your dish to get thicker, adding a bit of flour, cornstarch, or gelatin will make it thicker!
This one’s also very healthy! Almond milk may not be a great source of protein, but it’s packed with other nutrients like calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D, and doesn’t have saturated fat.
6. Want Your Dish Super Rich? Try Evaporated Milk
This may be an unpopular choice, but there’s something about evaporated milk that I absolutely love—it has a very distinct flavor and thick texture that go so well with creamy dishes so it’s an excellent choice if you’re looking for a coconut milk substitute.
Evaporated milk is basically fresh milk that had about 60% of the water removed. Another thing that I like about this is that it can stay in my pantry for months to a year, unlike fresh milk that goes bad fast. This is my usual go-to ingredient for cooking creamy dishes.
If the recipe calls for a cup of coconut milk, substitute it with half a cup of evaporated milk first. You can always add more if you think that your dish needs to have more thickness. You can also dilute it in some water or whole milk.
Evaporated milk is not always available in supermarkets. If you can’t find it in big stores, try smaller Asian supermarkets. This is a common ingredient in Thai and Filipino food, so you may want to try specialty stores for these as well.
Thank You For Reading!
How did your substitution go? Coconut milk has a distinct taste that is not easy to copy, but with the right adjustments, you can come close to other qualities like texture and consistency! I hope these suggestions were helpful. Let me know if you have any questions!
If the first coconut milk substitute didn’t work well, I suggest that you try other ingredients from this list! There are so many flavors and textures to explore.
Please also feel free to tell me about your dish in the comments section below! Suggestions and recommendations are more than welcome as well. Thanks for reading! And best of luck with your recipes!
Read more: What does lobster taste like?